Stroke is the major cause of long-term disability among adults and older people and a significant factor in the increase in disability with aging. Yesterday was World Stroke Day. For sure, stroke is a catastrophic event that impacts on all aspects of a person’s being, forcing individuals to alter their lifestyle and reconstruct their identity. Each year in the United States more than 795,000 have a stroke and it also kills almost 130,000 Americans each year-that’s 1 in every 18 deaths.
For the survivors and their families, there are changes and social challenges that occur. I know firsthand, that this includes an increase in anxiety, fear of having another stroke, loss of confidence and even depression. As one of the lucky ones who experienced a transient ischemic attack, I realize how important the need is to tell this story. It’s apparent that many medical centers recognize the need to provide follow-up for stroke survivors, enabling the patients to express their psychological trauma and to address the varying degrees of mental and physical disability.
One of the major myths about stroke is that it is reserved for seniors. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “although a vast majority of strokes occur in people over age 65 (the risk is 30 to 50 per 1,000 in this age group), 10 percent to 15 percent affect people age 45 and younger (a risk of 1 in 1,000).” A study by doctors at the Wayne State University-Detroit Medical Center Stroke Program found that among 57 young stroke survivors, one in seven were given a misdiagnosis of vertigo, migraine, alcohol intoxication, seizure, inner ear disorder or other problems — and sent home without proper treatment.
At Coastal Carolina University, Lecturer, Amy Edmunds continues her educational evangelism for young stroke victims. Since she experienced an ischemic stroke in 2002, at the age of 43, she has been zealous in her campaigns for stroke awareness. Just last week, she hosted a successful Young Stroke Symposium in collaboration with Georgetown Hospital System and the College of Science of Coastal Carolina University and addressed the important theme of building survivor social support.
So if you or someone that you love experiences any of these symptoms: Call 911.
* Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
* Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
* Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
* Difficulty walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination.
* Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
Unlike a heart attack, most strokes are painless. Even if the initial symptoms dissipate they must be taken seriously.
I am hoping to establish linkages with various regional medical centers here in the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. My plan is to provide opportunities for stroke and heart patients young and old alike to describe their journey from first attack to recovery in the form of life experience illness narratives. Yes, there are many online opportunities for stroke victims to tell their story and I also recommend Patient Voices, especially this link entitled, “Reconnecting with life: stories of life after stroke.”
Barry Lopez writes, “that sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.” I could not agree more.
Send me your story.